It’s easy to be negative when you’re a Cleveland fan—sports-related depression is practically a chronic condition in Northeast Ohio. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we decided to take a positive attitude. In this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked: As an Indians fan, what are you thankful for?
Brian Heise: I’m thankful to have grown up in a city with Major League Baseball and that I have a team to root for. I can’t imagine the Indians not being a focal point in my life in terms of hobbies and interests, not in a million years. Good or bad, I’m all in. I also can’t wait to pass down this burden to my children the same way my dad did for me. (Thanks, Dad!)
Meanwhile, living in New Orleans, there is no baseball and it’s awful. It’s nonstop football all year round and the months of February through September aren’t nearly as enjoyable. Nobody here cares about the MLB, let alone the Indians. It’s a very solitary existence as a fan. So, while I’m not in Cleveland going to games and living and dying with each and every pitch, I’m at least thankful that I can tune in on my cellphone and hear the sweet sound that is Tom Hamilton‘s vocal chords or watch a get away day game from the confines of my cubicle while I pretend to work. For those few hours, I have the chance feel like I’m a bit closer to home.
Mitchell Below: Jacobs Field. No amount of Peter Lewis’s money can get me to call it anything but “The Jake.” Our beloved stadium turned 18 in 2012 and, thanks to the park building boom of the last two decades, is now the 11th-oldest park in baseball. Prepare yourselves now for the cries that the Indians can no longer compete with such an outdated facility.
The Houston Astros. The only team worse than the Indians in 2012 run differential moves to the AL in 2013. Sadly, the Tribe will only play seven games against the rebuilding Astros next season.
Bill Bavasi. In 2006, this erstwhile Mariners GM generously exchanged 12 controllable years of Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for 540 at bats from Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez. Choo and Cabrera have been worth 32 to 37 wins above replacement in their years with the Tribe.
Alex Anthopoulos. Anthopoulos set the market by trading three Top 10 prospects for Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson, then he ensured Sandy Alomar‘s return to the Tribe dugout with his unorthodox rehiring of ex-manager John Gibbons.
Lewie Pollis: I’m thankful to have grown up in the glory days of the 1990′s. The memories from my childhood are of some of the greatest teams ever to play in Northeast Ohio. For me, that lineup from 1999—Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, David Justice, Richie Sexson, Travis Fryman, Sandy Alomar—is (and likely always will be) the greatest collection of baseball talent I’ve ever seen, and that’s what I remember about going down to The Jake when I was a kid.
Of course, such memories are double-edged swords. No other team will ever measure up to the various Tribe incarnations of the 90′s. It’s hard to envision a small-market ballclub enjoying success as great as sustained as those Indians did in today’s game. But you know what? I’ll take it.
Most Cleveland fans’ default emotion is heartbreak. Not mine. I grew up with Lofton leaping over walls, Manny and Thome ripping dingers, and Omar and Robbie turning tough double plays into ballet. My first impressions of baseball were made by some of the greatest hitters and fielders of all time, so I am and forever will be proud to be an Indians fan.
Merritt Rohlfing: I’m thankful the Indians aren’t the Kansas City Royals. KC might have the current pipeline of young talent coming up, but at least the Tribe is actually able to put together something resembling a real playoff run from time to time. The Tribe is bad now, but at least they’re not a punchline.
I’m also thankful I’m not a fan of any of the teams I probably should be. I grew up in Connecticut, so you’d think I’d be a Red Sox, Yankees, or Mets fan. But then I’d run the risk of feeling entitled and expectant for something so high and difficult to reach I’d be routinely disappointed. Or, in the Mets’ case, I’d have to suffer from their utter misery and the ridicule of Yankees fans. I like rooting for a team that has to fight for every win and find really special players from really smart work and really lucky chances, like the Casey Blake/Carlos Santana trade or what have you. These down times are cruddy, but if anything I learn more about the game every day because I make myself mine the depths of baseballdom for some kind of talent I think could help the team. Besides, nobody pays attention to Yankees bloggers, there’s like a million of them and most are idiots. We Tribe bloggers are a rare, often self-flagellating breed, and dammit, I’m proud to be a Cleveland Indians fan.
Steve Kinsella: I am thankful that the Cleveland Indians have brought in Terry Francona to be their manager. In my mind Francona is more than just a manager—he is a organizational manager. He will assemble a top-rate coaching staff, he will work with Chris Antonetti on who to acquire in the offseason as well as with roster management during the course of the season, and he will know when and how to bring in and merge a young player into the rotation or lineup. Most importantly, he will keep the team focused through a 162-game season and more often than not when the Indians lose it will be because of insufficient talent and not because of failing to execute the fundamentals.
Jeff Mount: I’m thankful August is over.
Evan Vogel: I am thankful that there is always next year.